Senate enacts Sen. Maxmin criminal justice reform bill
AUGUSTA — On Thursday, June 18, the Senate enacted a bill from Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, to help people guilty of low-level crimes contribute to their communities, rather than serve jail time. An amended version of LD 957, “An Act To Authorize Expanded Deferred Disposition Requirements,” received unanimous, bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.
“I’m so grateful to my colleagues for their overwhelming support of this bill,” said Sen. Maxmin. “We know that our criminal justice system needs reform, but it can be difficult to know where to start. This bill helps people who have committed crimes, but who don’t pose a danger to their communities, learn from their mistakes and become better. This helps them get the tools they need so they don’t reoffend, without taking them away from their families and communities.”
Deferred disposition requires a person to enter a guilty plea to a low-level crime up front while delaying sentencing, typically for a period of one year. During the deferment period, the court can impose requirements on the person to help them live a law-abiding life. At the end of the deferment period, charges may be dropped or reduced, or the person may be sentenced to serve time.
LD 957 will make more programming available to people in deferred disposition by allowing sheriffs to administer more court-mandated programming. Deferred disposition arrangements often require participation in community service, but finding volunteer opportunities can be difficult for those with a criminal record. LD 957 will make more community service opportunities available to participants so they can fulfill their requirements. LD 957 also will make treatment options such as substance use counseling available to more participants, giving them better chances for long-term success.
An earlier version of the bill and bill title referred to alternative sentencing programs; the amended version allows people to participate in the type of programming typically found in alternative sentencing programs without actually being sentenced and adding to their criminal record.
LD 957 now goes to the desk of Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.